Celiac Disease and Dental Care

Dental Health
By: Spirit Dental
August 2, 2023

Young woman brushing her teeth and looking in the mirror smiling

Celiac disease is a condition we’ve heard more about in recent years. As awareness grows, we continue to learn more about the disease and its physical effects.  

Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition where consuming some form of gluten causes damage to the small intestine. It can be developed at any age, and while it’s estimated that one in every 100 people worldwide have the disease, only 30% are properly diagnosed. 

One side effect that those with celiac disease may overlook is how the disease affects teeth and gums. Continue reading to learn more about the correlation between celiac disease and oral health.

Impact of gluten on oral health

Gluten is a protein found in foods that contain wheat, rye and barley — typically breads, pastas, crackers, pastries, cakes and pies. Many people have gluten sensitivity, but those with celiac disease may experience more severe symptoms, like abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and more. 

The effects gluten has on oral health can also be profound for individuals with celiac disease. It can cause:

  • Enamel defects
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Delayed tooth eruption
  • Increased risk of mouth ulcers
  • Cavities
  • Dry mouth 

If you notice these symptoms, check in with your dentist as well as your primary care provider. 

Effect of celiac disease on children’s teeth

Children with celiac disease may experience some unique effects as well — one of the most prominent being enamel defects. The enamel is the protective outer layer of the teeth, and in celiac disease, the body’s immune response to gluten may cause enamel hypoplasia. This condition causes thinning, pitting or banding of the enamel, making teeth more susceptible to decay and sensitivity. This can happen in both baby and permanent teeth, creating long-term dental challenges for children.

Another impact on children’s teeth is delayed tooth eruption. Proper tooth eruption is essential for maintaining oral health and ensuring proper teeth alignment. In children with untreated celiac disease, tooth eruption can be delayed or disrupted, leading to orthodontic issues later in life.

Finally, children with celiac disease may experience an increased risk of developing mouth ulcers or canker sores. These painful sores can appear on the inside of the cheeks, lips or tongue, causing discomfort and difficulty eating. 

If your child has celiac disease, ensure they follow proper dietary guidelines to prevent these symptoms. If your child has not been diagnosed with celiac but is exhibiting some of the symptoms, make an appointment with their healthcare provider right away to get them tested for the condition.

Oral health management with celiac disease

Fortunately, with access to more information related to celiac disease, it’s not as difficult to prevent its negative effects on teeth and gums. 

First, maintain a healthy lifestyle, avoiding smoking and limiting alcohol consumption. Both habits are unhealthy for everyone, but can be even more harmful to those with celiac disease, since they’re linked to problems in the digestive system.

Diet is also an important factor for those who have celiac‌ disease. To reduce the disease’s negative effects on oral health, follow a gluten-free diet that eliminates all sources of gluten from your meals and snacks. Opt for naturally gluten-free grains like:

  • Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Corn
  • Oats

Fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, eggs and dairy products are generally safe choices. There are also packaged foods that use gluten-free alternatives — just be sure to always check nutrition labels

Spirit is your partner in protecting your oral health

Also key to protecting your oral health is daily brushing and flossing as well as your bi-annual dental appointments. A professional dentist will thoroughly clean your teeth, removing buildup of plaque and identifying any issues that require treatment. 

If and when problems arise, you don’t want to be held back from getting necessary treatment due to cost. Dental insurance covers regular preventive care in full, and reduces out-of-pocket costs for more extensive procedures like crowns and fillings. 

Keep your overall health in check with peace of mind — search available dental plans from Spirit Dental in your area.

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